God help me, I tuned into the special Sunday edition of Hannity and Colmes last night, two days before the election. I heard Hannity raving about how Obama was caught on tape boosting the bankruptcy of the coal industry. Creaky pollster Pat Caddell was incredulous that the Republicans hadn’t raise it earlier.
Could this be the November surprise to get working class voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio to go for McCain. Then, Hannity said he wanted to thank conservative blogger Michelle Malkin for “breaking” the story.
My bull**** antenna immediately went a foot higher. Then, I heard Sarah Palin echoing the Malkin-Hannity message on the stump. My antenna popped the roof shingles in my house.
Here is what actually happened. Barack Obama said the following:
“I voted against the Clear Skies Bill. In fact, I was the deciding vote. Despite the fact that I’m a coal state. And that half my state thought that I had thoroughly betrayed them. Because I think clean air is critical and global warming is critical. But this notion of no coal, I think, is an illusion. Because the fact of the matter is is that right now we are getting a lot of our energy from coal. And China is building a coal-powered plant once a week. So what we have to do then is figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon. And how can we sequester that carbon and capture it. If we can’t, then we’re gonna still be working on alternatives. But…let me sort of describe my overall policy. What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade policy in place that is as aggressive if not more aggressive than anyone out there. I was the first call for 100% auction on the cap and trade system. Which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases that was emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants are being built, they would have to meet the rigors of that market. And the ratcheted down caps that are imposed every year. So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted. That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel, and other alternative energy approaches. The only thing that I’ve said with respect to coal—I haven’t been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a ideological matter, as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it. That I think is the right approach. The same with respect to nuclear. Right now, we don’t know how to store nuclear waste wisely and we don’t know how to deal with some of the safety issues that remain. And so it’s wildly expensive to pursue nuclear energy. But I tell you what, if we could figure out how to store it safely, then I think most of us would say that might be a pretty good deal. The point is, if we set rigorous standards for the allowable emissions, then we can allow the market to determine and technology and entrepreneurs to pursue, what the best approach is to take, as opposed to us saying at the outset, here are the winners that we’re picking and maybe we pick wrong and maybe we pick right.”
Here is what Rove, Palin and Malkin said:
Rove on Fox Monday morning: He (Obama_ is calling for the bankruptcy of the American coal industry, which provides about 50% of our electric power."
"In the tape, we are going to hear him (Obama) talking about bankrupting the coal industry...."
Shall we start with the completely out-of-context interpretation of one sentence in a long paragraph?...or the fact that what Obama said was that building a new plant wouldn't be economically viable under a cap-and-trade system. The industry is going to be able to operate the plants now operating. The coal mines are still going to supply those plants.
And oh yeah...McCain is for the same kind of cap-and-trade system.
BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.